See previous: How To Know It's Time To Invest In An Industrial Robot
Equipped with the robot knowledge from our previous post, you've confirmed that the timing is right to move forward on a robot project. Each company handles capital expenditures differently but in order to get your robot idea off the ground you'll likely have to present a proposal in some form to obtain approval.
Knowing what to expect and having your homework done ahead of time will increase the likelihood of your project being approved and gaining full buy-in from your colleagues. Understanding the topics below will assure you that you're fully equipped to handle anything that comes up during the presentation process and be on the way to making your project a reality.
Know You're Audience
Who will be reviewing the proposal is contingent on the company's organizational structure. Before compiling any documentation or booting up PowerPoint, it is important to find out who will be taking part in this review. People from different departments consume information in different ways and have concerns that are unique. A presentation to an engineering management team should look different than one presented to a board of directors or to ownership.
What sort of priorities or initiatives is this group focused on? This is a great time to highlight how your project will help them achieve the goals they've set out on. For example, have you been hearing more messaging from the top about factory safety? You'll want to be sure to discuss how your robot system is able to handle the non-ergonomic and/or dangerous work that could result in injuries and high turnover rates. Or perhaps a recent recall has given more attention to the quality control processes in place. This is a great opportunity to speak to the accuracy and repeatability of robot paths that can improve the reliability of the process.
Why Are We Automating?
Now that you have confirmed your audience and are ready to frame the presentation to their needs, you can move on to the system overview. No matter who is reviewing the project, chances are that they do not know all of the ins and outs of the process being automated as well as you do. It is important to form a firm base of understanding before diving deep into the details. Introduce the process as it stands currently and discuss the issues with the status quo before moving on to presenting the automation alternative.
Have Key System Information Ready
At this phase it is not necessary to have a design down to the the nut and bolt level but people will want to see a basic system layout and other macro information. This information can be provided to you if you're using a system integrator. Use the layout to step through the sequence of operation and gain feedback on how product will be treated from infeed to outfeed.
Outline The Numbers & Define Success
Ultimately the project will have to make financial sense in order to be approved. Have your budget or pricing from any integrators you've engaged with ready to go. The return on investment calculator referenced earlier in this series will go a long way to showcasing that the system meets performance criteria and the finance team will appreciate the forecasting.
ROI is the most closely watched measurement for most companies but it does not reflect the whole impact of a system. Forming a consensus on other metrics at an early stage enables the team think critically about the priorities as work is being done and allows for any pre-project comparison data to be acquired.
Other performance metrics such as the below are integral to the health of a manufacturing plant and should not be wholly eclipsed by one calculation.
Cost of Quality Control
Increased Material Yield
Decreased Cost Per Unit
Employee Safety & Risk Reduction
Give Direction On Implementation & Support Plan
Implementing a robot system is not something that can be purchased, integrated, and then wholly forgot about. There are short-term and long-term considerations that should be outlined at the onset to enable the system to run smoothly and profitably for as long as possible. (See 6 Ways To Extend Robot Lifespan)
Create a plan that lays out the stakeholders to facilitate understanding and accountability. Naming the project lead, operators, maintenance team, and engineering will help the operations team stay in the know. If your team does not have any robotics experience, be sure to bring them up to speed with training from an integrator or robot manufacturer.
Be Ready For Feedback
Bringing in various stakeholders into one meeting each addressing their own interests might mean that parts of your system will be removed, adjusted, or expanded in order to satisfy everyone. There are sure to be comments along the way, so expect it ahead of time and be prepared and flexible.
Every company and their people are a bit different so feel free to add more sections to the above in order to make the presentation right for you, but be sure to have each one we've called out addressed and you'll hopefully be seeing the next stage of your project coming up soon.